"Now that Karl is dead I get his share right?" - Franz the porter
Would you trust these Under hobbits?
Once more Ugh found himself in a tavern surrounded by spiritless men and shiftless women. He found himself light on funds having paid for training and so promised an untried duo Karl and Franz 10% of the loot found on the next expedition. Karl looked like he could barely hold a sword and Franz wasn’t interested in fighting at all though he agreed to help carry the lantern and any sacks of loot required. Figuring this was the best he was going to be able to do Ugh ventured once more into the darkness beneath.
This time he explored to the northeast towards the Halflings. Fang the orc-mastiff growled as it approached the area. It had picked up the scent of orcs though these orcs had perished some days ago, their bodies decomposing in the corridor undisturbed. Ugh continued and was surprised to find the Under Halfling hiding spot abandoned. Pressing on he emerged in a large cavern full of stalagmites. Earlier Ugh had lent Karl his old bastard sword and the hireling had been busily swinging the blade in practise motions at stalagmites despite Ugh’s insistence that he stop mucking around. As they explored the natural cavern Ugh heard a manly shriek. Karl dropped the blade swearing it had turned into a serpent before his very eyes. It was then that a booming voice ordered them to drop their weapons and treasure of they would regret it. Ugh would have none of this and eventually called the voices bluff. Five Halflings with slings at the ready emerged from their hiding spots about the cavern. The half-orc and his companions felt outmatched and fled.
Cursing the loss of his sword and vowing to take it out of Karl’s wages, Ugh returned to the cavern. Here he encountered a short fellow wearing a jaunty hat, carrying a cane and speaking with a lilting voice that sounded like a poor version of Irish. As it so happened the diminutive fellow was Ugh’s best friend or so the half-orc believed for he had been bewitched. Ugh was for some reason still deeply suspicious of his new best friend but did permit the short fellow to cast a spell of invisibility on his dog.
Upon return to his hirelings Ugh found Karl doubtful of the Halflings motives but Ugh shrugged his accusations off. Ignoring Karl’s pleas to put the little buggers to the sword Ugh stomped off to the south to explore the area where his one time thief companion had heard reptilian roars.
The band was confronted by the severed heads of several elves placed on spikes in the twisting tunnels to the south. The elves decapitated bodies lay as they fell. The group barely had time to take in the grisly warning when they heard the sounds of combat echoing along the tunnels. Creeping ahead they saw a band of troglydytes and Neanderthals locked in melee. The Neanderthals appeared to be protecting a demonic looking crab human hybrid. Ugh let the battle play out for a while partly to allow each side to wear each other down but also because he did not know which side to aid. Eventually Ugh leapt to the assistance of the troglydytes, choosing to do battle with the unnatural crab abomination. Karl held back but later would join the fray only to be cut down by a Neanderthals crab claw club. Such is the brutal and short life of the hireling.
The battle was grueling; Ugh was finding it difficult to land a telling blow with his great sword as his opponent’s solid shell served as most effective armour. Fang was having a great time of it felling several brutes with his powerful jaws. The crab beast turned out to be some form of shaman and it channeled mystic energy into its mighty claw before landing a telling blow on Ugh, which rent through the half-orcs armour. Badly wounded Ugh called the retreat and easily outdistanced the crab thing as the beast found it difficult to navigate the tunnels, as it had to scuttle sideways. Ugh reached into his pack and retrieved the wand of doors he had found earlier. He uttered the command word and magically a sturdy door popped into existence sealing the tunnel behind him and protecting his retreat.
It did not take long for the crab thing to reach the door and begin battering it down. The door had bought Ugh enough time to reach the pool of healing and take a long draught. Feeling better Ugh went looking for the crab beast again and lured the enraged abomination into the Halfling chamber. Surely his new friends would aid him in his battle.
Instead the Halflings were angry. They cursed the half-orc for bringing such a deadly foe to their home. Such was not the act of a friend, they declared. Ugh and Fang would have to battle the brute on their own and they did for a time. Fang landed some heavy blows tearing into the creatures face. It staggered under the blows and looked ready to fall. At the command ‘Finish them’ the Halflings drew short swords and looked ready to move in. Ugh hoped they were going to assist. In the end the Halflings had left it too late as Fang the mighty Orc-Mastiff seized the creatures head in its powerful jaws and tore it clean off. The battle had ended and the unnatural crab abomination was no more.
Ugh returned to the southern tunnels to search the main battle site in the hope of loot. He was disappointed that the combatants had nothing of worth though Franz his porter did spot a ruby clutched in the hand of one of the decapitated elves. Rigor mortis had set in and some finger bones had to be broken to liberate the gem. Thus far the expedition had yielded only this gem as treasure. Eager for more the band pressed on exploring the twisting tunnels.
It did not take long before they were challenged by a towering brutish ogre. Fortune smiled on Ugh for the ogre was inclined to talk and even offered to share one of the troglydytes that the brute planned to eat. The ogre introduced himself as Gulag and offered to trade with the half-orc for a few potions he had lying about. Unfortunately the ogre wanted an impressive hound like Fang as a trade. Fang was far too valuable and so Ugh refused. The half-orc did get to spy the ogre’s treasure horde as the brute dug through the pile to find things for trade. Deciding not to press his luck Ugh bid the ogre good day and retreated back to the safety of the surface.
"Oh crap. That's not fair. I already killed it once!" - Ugh
Fang I. The orc-mastiff that survived.
Ugh looked about the tavern but sadly none within shared his adventurous spirit. Sighing he took on the services of a sullen man at arms named Werner and headed for the dungeon. On the way he passed the cities kennels and decided to recruit some canine allies. Fortune favoured the half-orc who walked out with two orc-mastiffs, huge brutal dogs bred for hunting orcs. Ugh was lucky that his half-orc heritage had not left him with an orcish scent
Entering the dungeon Ugh returned to the hobgoblin occupied cave where he and his thievish companion had left off. The unfortunately named hobgoblin Furby remained in the cavern though he had little to say. Ugh had the hobgoblin help him lower his two mastiffs down a short drop before exploring some tunnels inscribed with odd tribal markings from an ancient lizard man culture. Many of the carvings depicted lizardmen cavorting with dinosaurs. While engrossed in deciphering these complex carvings Ugh’s lead mastiff took a tumble down a pit. Ugh held the lead tight and for a time seemed to be choking his own dog. Eventually he lowered the beast to the base of the pit and discovered that the shaft led to a series of tunnels.
Ugh bravely descended and began exploring. He discovered three orange gems that glowed with an inner fire lying discarded in the centre of separate chambers. Despite his paranoia these did not seem to be trapped. It was then that he discovered a door into a mist shrouded corridor. Holding his breath he plunged in. After some exploring, hampered by the vision obscuring mist, Ugh stumbled across a tentacled fire breathing floating abomination. The battle was a drawn out affair wherein Werner and one of the hounds perished in gouts of flame and Ugh himself was badly burned. Eventually Ugh’s remaining dog Fang wore the creature down ripping out the beast’s central eye. Yet this did not seem to be the end for the creature. It appeared shimmering in a mystical circle in the floor before letting lose with another burst of flame that mercifully missed. Ugh retreated then attempted to dispel the abomination by throwing the collected orange crystals into the mystic circle and hoping for some sort of reaction. Perhaps he was successful as the monster winked out of existence and bothered him no more. Ugh was free to loot the creature’s substantial horde.
Beaten and bloodied Ugh pressed his luck with a little more exploration of the tunnels within the pit. Pushing west he encountered a room full of statues including one of an intriguing crocodile. Its jaws were hinged in such a fashion to suggest it would accept donations. Ugh fed it the fire crystals and as a reward he felt smarter, stronger and more charismatic. Not wishing to press his luck further Ugh retreated from the dungeon.
A map back when I was motivated enough to draw them by hand
Ugh ventured once more beneath the earth. This time he shared the risk and reward with Willyam the human thief along with a desperate mecenary and a pair of torch bearers.
Ugh was surprised to hear Willyam initiate the idea of scouting ahead. The last thief Ugh had taken up with had been reluctant to risk his life serving as point man. Willyam scouted to the edges of the torch light allowing his eyes to adjust to the murky gloom. Eastward he crept till his ears made out the sound of some reptilian roar reverberating from far off long the twisting tunnels. Rather than discover the nature of the roar Willyam chose to scout the remaining tunnels that lead into the entrance chamber. Ugh looked disappointed as he longed to shed blood. Willyam explained his decision as a preference to leaving nothing at his back.
Scouting north Willyam came across the slumped body of an orc, its throat slit. Proceeding cautiously Willyam’s sharp senses picked up the aroma of Halfling pipe weed. Pausing and waiting, the thief’s caution was rewarded as he saw a Halflings face illuminated as it puffed at a pipe from a low crevice hidden in the corridor. The thief noted the location as an excellent point for an ambush. Willyam recalled tales of tribes of Halflings dwelling deep underground known as Under Halflings. They were notorious for their thievery and ill nature. Returning to his companion the two agreed to try talking before violence. Willyam crept back to the Halflings hiding place, knelt down so it was obvious that he knew were the rogue was and extended his hand to help the little fellow out.
The two struck up a conversation. The Under Halfling was part of a larger group that claimed the northern caverns. The diminutive fellow was called Karl and if they needed a place to recover they were welcome to use their caves. The odd looking Halfling also mentioned a treasure guarded by a large toad to the north. He didn’t know what the treasure was but knew the toad must be keeping something because “that’s what toads do ‘eh governor?” He warned that the toad had swallowed an Under Halfling whole and advised they take care. Ugh readied his mighty two handed blade and set off toad hunting.
The cavern of the Toad was vast. Along the northern wall a large lake loomed and from the lake sprung a waterfall running in reverse. Not seeing any immediate threat Ugh took to poling through the edges of the lake with his 10’ pole. His searching was rewarded as he struck a solid object. It was then that his dark vision spotted the huge toad swimming towards the shore. Falling back the warrior prepared for the toad to beach itself. Willyam readied a flaming oil flask. The toad made the shore. Strange vapor played around the immense beasts mouth. The half orc charged. The toad’s head flew off. Blood and foul ichor drenched the half orc. Ugh earned the monicker toad slayer. The object in the lake turned out to be a locked coffer, which Willyam deftly picked after oiling the lock. It contained a valuable necklace worth a small fortune.
Pressing on the group uncovered a well dedicated to the healing gods. It had long been covered with mineral deposits and its once lavish decorations were barely visible. The water within it had long turned brackish. As the party was uninjured they did not see the need to drink from the fountain. Further exploration revealed a flaming ball rolling around the ceiling at the end of a cavernous corridor. Suspecting something more to the mystery further exploration was defeated by bolts of fire that on occasion leapt from the flaming ceiling sphere. Additonal exploration revealed a stone tablet clutched in the skeletal fingers of a long dead priest. The tablet served as a scroll to some loathsome deity and was inscribed in a magical language neither adventurer could decipher. Eventually the party struck south as Willyam had the notion to find the ooze Ugh had told him about.
Instead the party ventured far further south than they had intended and found a natural chamber full of mushroom patches in which lurked a hobgoblin. The hobgoblin was a friendly sort. He had escaped some sort of dungeon deeper in the earth. He warned them of some of the local inhabitants. Crab men to the east and Troglydtyes to the South. The friendly goblinoid, called Furby had little else to offer information wise. It was here that the party decided to retreat back to the surface their foray done for the time being.